Remember the other day when Engadget stumbled on Sprint LTE service in San Francisco
? As it turns out, the carrier has had some LTE signal in the Bay Area for a month, but has not announced it. This is the game plan that the nation's third largest mobile operator is employing. Sprint is holding back on making San Francisco an officially launched market for 4G LTE until the signal is available on a continuous basis
in the area. According to Sprint spokesperson Kelly Schlageter, "Deployment is just beginning in San Francisco
, coverage area is somewhat hard to describe at this stage because sites generally aren't contiguous. There are sites on air in and around SF, kind of like popcorn
Schlageter explained that it is better to allow some enterprising customers to find areas where the service is available and test it out before it becomes official. Or as she puts it, "Rather than deploy a site, test the equipment and then turn it off until we launch, we are leaving the sites on and customers are welcome to use the Sprint 4G LTE network wherever they find it
." And using the coverage map on Sprint's web site, Sprint customers can determine where there is an LTE signal. Sprint says that it is slightly behind its goal of near-nationwide coverage by the end of the year, but should reach 250 million POPs
by early 2014.
There are some new areas that are getting lit up. Areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and Florida (Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami) are now showing LTE coverage, although without contiguous coverage, none of it is official.